By Joe Neame, Subject Specialist Science, NCFE. https://www.ncfe.org.uk/
*T Levels are new two-year, Level 3 courses that follow on from GCSEs. The much-needed study programmes prepare young people for skilled employment, higher level apprenticeships or higher education.
Based on the same standards as apprenticeships, a T Level is equivalent to three A Levels and gives students a mixture of classroom learning and relevant, up to date, technical experience. With a wide range of skill shortages across the UK, there is a massive demand for these courses that focus on developing vocational skills to support vital sectors and industries.
In September 2021, the Health and Science T Levels route was launched, containing a science-specific pathway. Within this pathway, students can choose to study the metrology occupational specialism which gives them the knowledge, technical skills and threshold competence to work in the metrology sector.
Students cover the core knowledge, skills and concepts applicable to the health and science sector in general, before undertaking their occupational specialism in the second year of the programme. The metrology T Level, as with all other T Levels, was designed with and by employers and industry experts to ensure students are prepared to embark on their metrology careers.
The British Measurement Testing Association (BMTA) played an invaluable role in the validation of the Science T Level, and metrology occupational specialism in particular, ensuring it is fit for purpose for students, providers and the sector.
T Level students also complete an industry work placement where they get the chance to apply their newfound technical knowledge and skills. They experience employment within the metrology sector first-hand, allowing them to make an informed choice as to whether they wish to pursue a career, a higher apprenticeship or higher education.
Industry placements set T Levels apart, providing students with more comprehensive and in-depth experience that they won’t find with other L3 qualifications. It also provides an opportunity to expose students to the vital role metrology plays in the 21st century and in the future of the health sector.
Industry placements benefit employers as much as students, giving them fresh insight into their business, as well as supporting and developing current employees.
Students undertake learning within the T Level that highlights to them their prior metrology knowledge gained from everyday life and education. They then build on these foundations in a relevant, technically-focused pathway.
Through the occupational specialism performance outcomes, students plan and perform appropriate scientific measurements for any measurand (complying with regulatory requirements and ensuring accuracy), collect, analyse, and interpret data from measurement tasks and resolve identified issues with measurement tools.
To further support with progression from the T Level, NCFE is currently developing a Higher Technical Qualification (HTQ) as a Level 5 Diploma for a Senior Metrology Technician. This diploma will sit between T Levels and degrees and is comprised of the higher level knowledge and skills that employers require, allowing students to progress into highly skilled, highly paid roles within the industry.
Again, BMTA will play a vital role in validating this technical qualification, ensuring it is fit for purpose and is of the highest quality for students and learners. If anyone would like to know more about this qualification or would like to support its development, then please reach out to NCFE via Craigwade@ncfe.org.uk.
For the majority of learners, the T Level will be the first time they have been exposed to metrology and so is a fantastic opportunity to engage and encourage the metrologists of tomorrow. There is currently a STEM skills shortage and through academic and technical progression routes, we can help ensure that we are prepared for the metrological challenges of the future.
*T Level is a registered trademark of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. The T Level Technical Qualification is a qualification approved and managed by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.